Gaudi’s architecture is somewhat bizarre, incredibly interesting, stunningly creative and innovative and a major drawcard to Barcelona. Recently uploaded selection at .bit.ly/gaudian . Trust you’ll enjoy.
Gaudi’s architecture is somewhat bizarre, incredibly interesting, stunningly creative and innovative and a major drawcard to Barcelona. Recently uploaded selection at .bit.ly/gaudian . Trust you’ll enjoy.
AcerlorMittal, autumn colors, Canal Du Midi, Carcassonne, comment, fall, france, french, history, images, London, Minerve, Olympic Park, Pezenas, photographs, photography, photos, places, rural France, sculpture, Thames River, tourism images, travel, travel blog
Enjoyed sharing some of our experiences and photos as we travelled and shot over last 8-10 weeks, hope we haven’t bored you with it all. Have tried to keep the Instagram shots different to those shared here, and hope if you are following those Instagram images (which find their way to facebook, twitter, google+ & LinkedIn) you’ll see another side of our photography and add to what we could put into these blogs.
Certainly getting colder now. Can tell, not just in my bones but in the colours of the leaves.
These are from a smallish town that might have talked of previously, they have a great market each week, and it is the home of that not so wonderful cafe experience mentioned last time! otherwise a lovely place, Pezenas.
We got to London for the weekend. Great opportunity to catch up with the family there, see Michael’s (Impero Design) new offices and pick up a few shots. Thanks guys for looking after us so well.
These are from Olympic Park in London. The AcerlorMittal Orbit red steel sculpture is apparently the highest sculpture in the UK. Views from top are panoramic London. The fine silver spiral tube in the image is a recently added slide. Quick way to get to the bottom, about 40 seconds. The screams (not sure if they were of delight) we heard reinforced our wimpy decision to take the lift, about 45 seconds too.
The historic city of Carcassonne has been left to the end of our time here. Main interest here is La Cite Medievale, the historic walled city and castle atop a hill adjacent to the “modern city”. Getting via the secondary routes rather than the main highways there is through more ancient, and not so ancient, villages, plane tree and vineyard lined country roads and along canals and past locks.
Carcassonne is like so many of the old cities, narrow streets, old buildings, some wonderful, many not, cafes that you are lucky to get a coffee and never find something to eat in and although the height of the tourist season is over, we make up the bulk of the people wandering about. Rugby is everywhere in this part of France. From people wearing jerseys on the streets to shops selling the clothing. We come across a Serge Blanco shop (followers will recall his great contribution to French rugby, now he’s got a chain of retail fashion rugby clothing shops) to a chain called “Otago” would you believe, just a couple of doors along.
In the old city on the hill, across the old bridge and obviously older river, there’s the place everyone comes to see. The walled city, castle and cathedral. I guess to make these places pay they need to fill them up with tourist shops and restaurants. Same here. Many the tacky not so nice shops and “authentic” French pizza restaurants. To be fair, here there a a few classier shops. We roam eventually getting to the cathedral where we are treated to a tenor quartet in the stunning acoustics these remarkable buildings have.
We fill the bulk of our day here then decide to head back for dinner and some night shots.
Minerve, an historic village perched on a rock outcrop in the middle of Gorge Du Brian (Anne suggests a not too liberal translation is Gorgeous Brian and who am I to argue with Anne!) high in the mountains over the river Cesse in a fork with the Le Brian.
An interesting stop.
How the hell they built these fortified villages in the spots where only a mountain goat could go still defies my small mind. Like all these places it was the site of many a battle in ages past.The village has strategically placed catapults. Not sure that they are the originals or just some fake replicas, but they were clearly a part of the defense of the place nearly 1,000 years ago.
Other than the vineyards the people here clearly rely on tourism but I still can’t get a coffee with a muffin or croissant, and the “authentic” restaurant, only one open, is a pizza job. And thought people visited other countries/cultures for that experience.
A collection of artisan and tourist shops have made it here into the typically narrow streets though again at this time of the year most are closed.
At this altitude high in the Midi Pyrenees the autumn colours are starting to display. A few of the forest trees are turning red and gold. Will be stunning in a week or two. The vines too are changing, some with spectacular effect.
My attempt at an abstract of the colours in some of the vineyards now.
The endless hot sunny days the marked the first 6 or 7 weeks of our time in the Med have turned to pretty cool days and more rain than sun. The whole area was just so dry previously. This will get those vines producing for next year, though I did hear a report suggesting the harvest is down for the current year.
We’ve seen a lot, visited some amazing places and enjoyed a little of Spanish and French life. Although this wasn’t a road trip, we’ve driven over 6,000k’s in the two countries and fired off over 7,000 images between us. We have some work to do when we get back. we head to Toulouse and then to San Fran for a couple of nights each en-route. See you all soon, au revoir.
There has to be an exception.
Mentioned last time how friendly and helpful French people have been. There has to be an exception. The other day walking through village yearning for a coffee, came across this cafe, door open, darkness inside (but that’s not unusual we are finding) walked in as you do. I’m about halfway into the joint when “monsieur, monsieur, monsieur” can be heard loudly from the doorway we had just walked through. Turn around and there’s this woman who had been sitting at a table outside smoking as they do, and talking loudly on the phone, as they do, like one of those undesirable customers every cafe owner must get.My rapid retreat is followed by some un-understandable volley of rapid fire french. At this stage I realise she is the owner. “Deux cafe au lait sil vous plait” I ask, “OK”, then feeling like a bite, a croissant or similar, as you do, I ask in broken French, “and something to eat”. “OK”.
Thinking we are heading in again, I stride purposefully forward, my eyes adjusting to the darkness seeking the counter to see if there is anything to select from. Voila! I see a cabinet, like those drink cabinets they point too, with a get your own sweep of the arm, if you ask for a cold drink, move towards it, open it and start to look inside. Just at that moment my peace is shattered. Blaring from near the door comes “MONSIEUR, MONSIEUR, MONSIEUR”(thought that had happened a moment ago). But this time the smoking, loud talking outside proprietor is now striding towards me yelling “THIS IS NOT A SELF-SERVICE (REPEAT)”in broken English. Now we are even, but I’m thinking hey we are not really welcome here, so I wave Anne out of the place and follow to the much more dulcet tones of she with the loud voice’s “au revoir”.
We got what we wanted from a much nicer man in a much nicer place just a couple of doors along.
Cafes, as I’m sure you know, though different from ours in terms of offerings and coffee quality are an important part of daily life where dogs often outnumber patrons.
No we haven’t been to a bullfight.
But just as bullfighting in Spain is on the decline, we find a couple of rings in the area around us in France. Drove to a smallish village the other day and there near the entrance was a newish, small ring complete with toreador with horns on head statue.
Driving the vineyard lined narrow country roads is always an enjoyable experience for me. often vines give way to rough edges frequently with wild pomegranate, apples and escapee grape vines. The shooting season’s in full swing. Might have mentioned that before. Wandering the vineyards its amazing what you come across. And all that gunfire must have sparked the desire for a duck dinner. Well at least duck skewers on our bbq,
Many of the village entrance roads, and canal edges, are lined with plane trees. It is said Napoleon started this (somewhere I read the Romans did, so who knows) but now some are being removed as they have been responsible for car accident deaths.
Another constant here is the need for continual navigating around (well not always around as some just are not that shape), roundabouts that seem to have infested the country. The only things that contest these for popularity is churches. Even in our little town there are 2 I have found, usually locked only operating once of twice a month. Actually I think the roundabouts work quite well. some are large sods (I’ve driven around a number more than once trying to find the right exit. Others, small or barely existent. The need for so many, sometimes only metres apart, must come from the number of entry points each town has. Usually about six. On one occasion we “circumnavigate” a more triangular “roundabout”, and just when I think I’m through there’s a pedestrian crossing, an old couple waiting to cross, I wonder whereto and stop for them. They scurry across to some large wrought iron gates in the middle, open them and head into what is clearly their home. So a home in the middle of a roundabout, but that’s not all, as we leave the apex of the roundabout (?) I notice some impressive headstones. I guess the family burial plot, who knows, but in this triangular roundabout.
Round another corner, and another village. This one Poilhes has Canal du Midi running through it. A couple of significantly different boats pass on a bend in the canal.
Narbonne is a nice city for a day or two. Main attractions are its museums and cathedral, also the Canal de la Robine runs through it. Below the canal at night, part of the Cathedral of Saint Just, a recovered 1,000+ year old mosaic and a statue of someone I’m sure I know but just can’t recall for now.
By now the weather is turning colder and a strong wind is kinda making the day difficult.
Spent a night at a seaside holiday place La Port Nouvelle, lovely ocean beach, but not much else that’s memorable, except our hotel that is. The last place open I think, the room quite nicely done up with concealed blue lighting (ugh). The entrance was tiny, struggled to get our one bag though and even bigger struggle to get it in the lift, all so that when we reached our floor we could be assailed by darkness and an almighty stench. You know the one that you face when out of sheer desperation you are forced to enter a public toilet the local council has taken off its regular cleaning list. Shan’t be returning there. However did get some nice sunrise shots next morning.
We head to the area generally referred to as Aude Nature hoping to see and photograph some bird-life. Still seems scarce around the prime spots we were referred to, nothing to shoot, so give up on the west side of this great estuary and wetland area and head for the other side and the town made famous by the Newman’s. Not the Paul Newman’s, the Eric and Carol Newman’s.
On approaching Gruissan we come across another canal with a couple of old boat restorations going on. Here’s one of them.
Round the corner I spot some flamingos flying, not close enough, then go stalking storks.
Pretty much everything else seems blown away by the wind.
The wind we learn is the tramontane and can blow at up to 120k’s. It originates from the same central area as the better known mistral winds.
The town of Gruissan is like many here divided into new and old towns. The new is essentially built around 3 massive marinas. These are marina’s spectacular, ones that NZ boaties would just lust over. A really classy modern town that attracts 120,000 in the peak season. That’s over now and most shops and restaurants are closed. Enough are open though for us to get all the meals we need. The old city has the remains of a chateau on the hill, built about 1100 and a fairly typical small town, narrow streets, tight corners and streets littered with cafe tables and chairs to be navigated around. Oh of course a couple of great churches too. Not planning to, but late in the day we decide it’s worth staying longer and book into the 1st B & B (Chambres de Hotes) we come across. What a find. Probably the best accommodation on this trip, beautifully renovated and built from rock pilfered from the the chateau (you can what remains of the chateau below). All these places have so many stories. The proprietor of our B & B answers a lot of questions over breakfast and we learn a bit (I’m sure there’s a ton more) from him
Both the estuary (Etang de Thau) and the ocean are photogenic.
As is the Il’e Saint Martin salt works which date back to Roman times and as you can see still producing the stuff by the mountain-load.
Mentioned our arrival in Corneilhan last time. It is really rural out here. Our little village, 10 minutes walk away is supposed to have about 1,500 inhabitants. your wouldn’t know it to visit.
Swear there are as many tractor movements through the town and cars, one bar no cafe we’ve found yet, a couple of greengrocers that open peculiar hours and days, a woman’s hairdresser, and a butcher closed until end of Sept and a patisserie open 4 mornings a week. The coffees at the bar are wildly different each day. Anne keeps saying why have another? I keep thinking one day they’ll get it right and I’ll be able to say “voila”. Corneilhan is a typical ancient European village with the compressed terracotta roof pattern when you see from above and two monumental churches that are hardly ever used. A walk in any direction other than the road to town takes you into an endless vista of vineyards.
But there are lots of really quaint villages around.
We are essentially well-off the tourist trail here,
though it is not more than about 20 minutes to find the coast or other more “touristy” villages. With exception of coastal places like Sete and Beziers, Montpelier the rest I’ve never heard of and suspect most bar a few immigrant poms wouldn’t have either. Yep, they seem to flock here too as we encountered in our area of Spain.
The Canal Du Midi flows nearby. Looking forward to walking some of its banks and coffee-ing in many of the cafe’s I’ve seen pictured along its sides. We dropped into Villeneuve Les Beziers for a wander around the little village and along the canal alongside for an afternoon. Check the interesting restaurant name..
Beziers, monument through huge wrought iron gates, looking down on city from atop Cathédrale St-Nazaire (the city’s big one in terms of churches ) and mains street where the coffee is great
And the French people, well at least the ones we’ve met, those who have opened conversation with us have been fabulously friendly, helpful etc, certainly they have let the stereotype of aloofness and arrogance that we all hear about down. They have been great. Only negative is some are just so bloody impatient when driving. Guess they’re the young ones!!
As you know, once the All Blacks are mentioned you can’t stop them. Interestingly though, we seem to get a positive reaction to our accents, well perhaps we just don’t notice the others. Had a couple who it turns out are from Belgium and have a holiday place in the area sitting next to us over lunch in Beziers the other day. They really got into telling us about all the spots we should go to, then morning tea alongside the Canal Du Midi a guy who didn’t give a stuff about the All Blacks became passionate in telling us about a nature reserve and lake not too far away so we will be busy for the rest of our stay, just based on these experiences. Actually, saw this bar in Millau, went for a drink, clearly the French didn’t win the world cup, it was closed, shut, ferme, non ouvert, couldn’t get a beer there.
Weather has turned cooler in last week. Temps now start down at about 12 – 13 and rise to 24 -26. Quite pleasant especially since our car here has only a fan and windows for aircon!
Been a busy week this one, Sete, Beziers, Pezanas, Villeneuve Les Beziers, St Chinians, Murviel Les Beziers, Capestrang, Colombiers, Valra Plage, Serignan, Cap D’Agde, and we are not finished yet. And markets, there’s at least one a day round here, and our GPS automatically finds them somehow! Wonder who sets that thing every time we get in the car?
Most interesting part of markets (for me anyway) is the food and produce stands.
Look at this mouthwatering display.
We spend a night in Montpellier after dropping our good friend Andrea of at the airport. Nights on the Place de le Comedie pedestrian area are full of light and people.This is apparently the largest city pedestrian area in the world. The opera house is lit in blue at one end beyond the statue.
We stay in the historic district for our time here. The Saint Clement Aquaduct is proably one of the most recognised of city features. We see it as sun falls.
Another dimly lit lane from my night stroll around. As always old cities seem more interesting after dark
A number of small villages entertain us as we head (much to Anne’s consternation and subsequent delight!) to see the Millau Bridge. St. Guilhem le Desert is a beaux city (term used I believe to denote Frances most beautiful towns and cities) and a National Site.
Within the town is Abbey Gellone.
What a checkered history this Abbey has, even more than most religious buildings in Europe as far as I can see anyway. It’s worth reading about.
Late afternoon at Millau Bridge doesn’t show it off to it’s gleaming white best, but it is impressive to say the least, structure of 2.5 k’s in length with its tallest pier being higher than the Eiffel Tower has proven worth the effort to get to. They claim it took 3 years to build at a cost of 320 million (yep million) euros.We stay over-night, but the next day is overcast and showery so photos reflect this too. Bugger.
And back to the beginning – life in rural France; well, bird shooting season opened here yesterday. We now wake to the banging of shotguns. Some seem to be just outside our window. Give you a fright when they are real close. Had to rush to Carrefour for some additional undies….
When we look out the window there’s all these bright orange caps walking in the fields and vineyards. For starters I thought they must have been looking for he orange crested pheasant to …whatever with. Then I saw a gun over the shoulder so I guess they feel they won’t shoot one and other if the orange cap works!!
They are at it again in the evening, so if this becomes our last missive you’ll know we must look like birds on a wire.
This is what men should do. Each day, up to the village corner for a get-together and tell a few lies. Usually there’s some vin rouge and/or espresso too. The village a few k’s away from ours.
Au revoir from Corneilhan
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as Gabriel Miro famous Spanish author of late 19th early 20th century called Parcent.
And then there’s the narrow village streets, such fun to drive around, the historic architecture, and churches, the way many places have more than one way to spell their names, the Bones Festes, and the funny cappuccinos. Guess this is Spain.
Gas bottle delivery truck negotiating the narrow streets and even more difficult corners doing a multi-point turn.
A trip to the coast, the Costa Blanca and some of the picturesque villages and resorts makes for a colourful outing.
First stop about 40 mins away, Calp, reasonable sized town and home to this sign and the largest rock in the Mediterranean on the edge of the town, behind a cool marina.
Great restaurants waterfront activities, beaches and very touristy things, but well worth visit.
From Calp one can head up or down the coast taking in the amazing Mediterranean views, resort towns and tourist hotpots.
Altea, picturesque old buildings in its back streets. the waterfront comprises a very touristy promenade lined on one side with bars and restaurants and the other with the hordes covered sunbathing visitors.
Vilajoiosa, famous for its brightly painted houses is an historic fishing village. Lovely spot, and well worth the drive to visit. We misjudged the sun and the faces of waterfront buildings were all in shade. Drat, but we’ll return.
Closer to home are the plethora pueblos or villages each with it’s own distinctive feel and charm. Only 5 minutes down the road is Alcalali. These are a few of the street and building scene here. We had a coffee in the little square, bought a few supplies from local mini- supermercado and followed the postie around as he pushed his pike up and down the hilly streets delivering letters and chatting with locals. we had to do that as Anne wanted to post some cards and while he was busy doing this his PO was closed.
Went out to another town for dinner. Orba, about 10 minute away. Again, sat in square while our orders were delivered along with many other diners. What an atmosphere. Balmy evening in the Plaza de Espana surrounded by the old church and buildings like these taken from our seat, till about 10.30 when we headed home.
Incredible terraced valley between two ranges, another interesting town or two, and the castle on a rock.
The other side of the Coll de Rates mountains takes us through the windiest road I’ve ever driven as we descend into the Vall de Tarbena then back up the other side. Both sides are terraced extensively as this photo tries to show.An amazing drive.
When we get to Tarbena and its square with a couple of cafes and the ever present church its time for a coffee and dry toasted baguette with olive oil. That’s morning tea in the amazing cafe Casa Pinet cafe, museum like, totally packed with paraphernalia and picture from civil war era.
Any mode of transport works here. The John Deere parked in Tarbena square outside the church of Santa Barbara I’m guessing, while a local farmers drops into one of the adjacent cafes.
Guadalest bell tower built on a rock, alongside a small town comprising a wonderful old home, now a museum that was the original family’s here. Now a tourist magnet with a number of funny little “museums” and a ton of souvenir shops selling tons of Chinese tack. Great to visit for its history.
Markets were the order of the day, Saturday last. First there was the massive Xalo market then only a few metres down the road, the Lliber night markets.
Dancing in the streets;
In Alcalali (just 5 mins from us) we stumbled into their Bones Festes (don’t ask what that means, except they all seem to have one hell of a time). We had caught the last night of the event in Parcent the first night here when watermelon seemed to be the theme for some unexplained reason.
Then a day and uncomfortable night in Valencia. After checking into our hotel found the aircon didn’t work. Well, that’s an understatement, it pumped luke warm air into an already 30 c + environment. I hear you saying, so what, get it fixed. tried that, no joy. Went out hoping all would be restored by our return. Uh uh, no. They still couldn’t fix it. Thier recommendation – open you window. Did that, then could’t sleep too well, from the clatter and traffic from below.Add to that the rock hard bed – what a night, and now they want me to do a trip advisor recommendation! The joys of travel.
Our short stay in the city was otherwise very enjoyable with the Hills and Jordans.
The Valencia Cathedral entrance beyond the long shadows of the gate.
On our return to Vila Joyosa we made it on to the city port. Actually only a fishermans port but very interesting. Fishermen drying and mending their nets and some of the little boats they venture out in raise questions not just of safety, but also economics. How an they make a living from these wee tubs?
And this red one wasn’t the smallest or the least seaworthy.
After a few very enjoyable day we returned the Hills to Valencia to continue their cruising.
A visit to the arts and science district is a must. Never got inside any of the spectacular buildings, too busy photographing the stunning white architectural exteriors. After about 3 hours we still missed as much. Be sure if you are in Valencia, allow plenty of time for this visit.
Then there’s the story that seems to typify the Spanish. Nothing happens here quickly. Planning something, allow double the time needed (AT LEAST) anywhere else. Picked up a parking ticket for parking in a white lined parking space. That is the lines seemed to us to mark the area within which parking was allowable. Funny, 100 euro fine on back windscreen on our return. No right to argue, no place to go and fight so left with only option – to pay up. Where do you do that? at a bank, where else? First bank, teller fiddles on his computer for 5 minutes then tells us wrong bank, points out name of correct one. Eventually find one of those some number of cities away, same story, can’t do it here either. So I still have the ticket, unpaid because after some searching time walking, driving on the lookout, the one we are now told can do it seems to not exist. Have to keep looking I guess. There’s a 50% discount if paid before 20 days. Espana !!!!
Trust all is well wherever you are, adios.
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Project New England. A peepers journey.
Photos for print, download, gifts, art taken on this journey can be seen at http://www.brianscantlebury.com/Travel/USA-lower-48, http://www.brianscantlebury.com
just so you know, peepers is the name locals give to the hordes that invade the area to see the autumn colours.
Twenty seven +hours of airports, flights and a taxi we arrived at our Boston hotel at about 2.00am. Just before us a group of 4 poms had made it to the check-in only to find their bookings.com reservations had been stuffed up. No beds for them, the city is full due to a big computer conference. They were not happy. They had, it turns out arrived in Boston several hours earlier, picked up their rental and set up their gps and set off on what was a 5 min journey to the hotel. One wrong turning saw them doing a 3 hour night tour of Boston, only to finally find this.
Caught up with them this morning. One room was found for them, 2 had to sleep in the car. Their room was unserviced, there was an almighty mess, the curtains had been stolen. Yes they had reason to not be happy. Then it turned out the king-size bed room was originally for them, their mess had been for us. Guess we had luck on our side this time.
We collect our car, no majors this time though Anne did mumble at one stage “like Rome all over”.
There was no key. Anyway, 15 minutes later we were allocated another car and we set off.
Firstly to a small town, no redeeming features we saw, for breakfast. A good breakfast.
Then to Ipswich, and we visit a small peninsula village that was home to the Ipswich Yacht Club, then to Crane Beach not a patch on Mt M, but a few brave ones in the 18 degrees and wind.
Its pumpkin season here. They are everywhere. Even in my beer!
A few peeps of the fall colour, but not yet what we’ve come for. Weather forecast not brilliant, overcast. Not expecting improvement until later in week, so changing our movements to compensate.
Then on to Hampton BEACH for our 1st night. Weather has turned to custard, so we’ll see what tomorrows like and decide our next stop along the way we stopped at Newburyport. A quaint English like town with lots on nick-nack shops selling tick-tack.
Following fairly typical yank breakfast we head off. Along the Hamptons waterfront What fantastic homes and estates. Castles really, unbelievable by our standards. just amazing architecture along the coastal drive, and then when we head inland on highway 1 the substantial homes amongst the trees are real picturesque, with splashes of the fall colours adding vibrancy. Homes are all 2 or 3 storey, weatherboard, traditional American style.
A stop at Rye Harbor, a wonderful fishing port, lots of boats, floats etc then out of New Hampshire and into Maine. Still low on colour and overcast. Portsmouth stop for a walk around and lunch in a restaurant , the Portsmouth Brewery. Nice city, shops all boutique like and or nautical in flavour. Anne says this is what Tauranga/Mount needs more of. Due to the weather conditions Anne directs me to an outlet shopping centre. An afternoon shopping. Who’d have guessed? Oh well unfavorable weather so may as well. On to Scarborough for a couple of nights.
Bit of a late start today. Another grey day. Into Portland. An interesting city of about 65k, the whole state of Maine is only 1.3 m. It turned into a waterfront day. They have had an amazing fishing industry here, but pretty much gone now, except for lobster. Since the fish have been fished out, lobster have overtaken the sea. A whole lobster meal will cast about $20 us.lobster pound is where the crustaceans are held waiting for you to come along and buy.
then on to Portland. Next morning a waterfront ramble, then after lunch on a trolleybus tour, around some of the city, residential area and then to the Portland Head lighthouse. Pretty much like any other. Interesting though, more lighthouses in this state than any except Michigan. About 65. This one is known as the Spring Point known as Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. You can see grey the sky is.
Heading out of Portland after the hotel crappy breakfast, steer towards Camden. A small seaside town, again very English, its another grey day, out of the blue we come onto this little town, Freeport. You wouldn’t believe it. The whole outfit is an outlet shop town. Must a 100 of them. Very quaint though. Of course we have to stop, it is a dull day after all. By the time we’ve traipsed through most of these bloody outfits the sun is shining. There must be a God after all!
On to Bath. Yep, just like England. No Roman baths here, but a substantial ship building industry. Nice wee place. Lunch in an English pub. Did I say, in this very English part of the world there are scores of English and Irish pubs. Must be why they named it New England, or is it the other way round.
From Bath where we met a couple of Aussies who were doing what we are, but going in the opposite direction (did say they were Aussies didn’t I?).
FROM THERE to Boothbay Harbour. What a lovely harbour town. Fishing and tourism are the go here.
Great docks, and of course shops. Reminded me of some of the towns in Cornwall, but not so old, and easier to get to.
Then on to Camden. Another coastal town, small, English, pretty and into the motel we’d booked from Portland. Still not a lot of colour. Heading inland tomorrow, just spent trying to book our next stay. Every two-bob town is booked out, there’s country fair in a place called Fryeburg and everything for 1000 miles seems booked out. After 1.5 hours on the bloody computer we get one, oh the relief.
Another day spent cruising the hi-ways and by-ways, taking the alternative routes. All the while listening to Classic Vinyl Radio (sure you’d enjoy that too, all the old hits) and Anne’s nearly always helpful second guessing the gps. Nearly always useful too. again a dull start, down to a local bookshop/cafe for an early coffee and croissant for breakfast. An amazing selection of books and mags. Learned a lot about the collection of local writers and artists that have congregated in this town, Camden. Sun out after mid-day so lots better. little stops along the way to glean a bit about the local environment. Very pretty drive, though not yet any better than our own McLaren Falls.
Got to Bethel late pm, booked into our digs for the next 4 nights. As we enter we’re assaulted by the sounds of Patsy Cline, and keeps on coming. Very nice place though. Autumn leaves everywhere. Turns out there’s a Jeep Jamboree in town, 150 of them. Bethel is clearly a centre for all things alpine and it just rolls with the seasons.
On to the Fryeburg Fair. We are hoping to experience some local people and a bit of life here.
On the way we happen on a pumpkin patch. As I’ve said these big orange things are all the go here at the mo.
Then along highway 123. A great drive, the narrow road lined by fall coloured forest, with the trees arching overhead.
The animals too. The place is a cross between a gaudy sideshow fair and an old fashioned AMP show. Animal judging and activities along with the crowd, games, food (oh the food, dough every way you can imagine, and some more).0
Weather has turned shitty, so now we can only hope for better over the next few days.
Cheers for now.
Long drive today along the Moose Loop Drive. Once the sun shone, very, very scenic. 25 miles past waterfalls, along rivers and through national parks. Names such as Screw Augur Falls, Umbagog Lake, Mooselookmeguntic Lake and Coos Rapids keep us amused and scenically enthralled.
Another interesting day. 1st up to see the Sunday River covered bridge. When we arrive there’s a 30’something guy sitting having a yogurt. Starts talking to me, he’s doctor and avid hiker, mountain biker etc. Gives some great ideas on places to go and hopefully will come to NZ soon. This shot is from the current road bridge beside the one we’ve come to see. Actually they make a lot of these old covered but they are not much really. The covered bridge photographed and on to a couple of antique outlets. You’ve never seen anything like them. This part of the country seems swamped by them. More than churches I reckon and this state (Maine) has more churches p.p. Than any other state. Apparently, also has the most non-churchgoers p.p. In the country. Work that out if you can.
Anyway, back to antiques. Got talking to one old geezer. He has all this stuff, a garage, a house, 2 sheds, and 4 old school buses full. Says never purchased any. Only sold stull, and claims he only has 10% of what he took over 30 years ago left. Rodney, that’s his name, took over from his father, and uncle 30 years ago, who took over from his grandfather 90 years ago who started the whole thing 125 years ago. Get that? he had a swag of old wood stoves. Here’s Rodney, standing by one of his antique stoves.
Says he’s sold 347 of them so far. Showed the “Rolls Royce” OF WOOD STOVES, in his back are, think it might once have been his kitchen, 100% nickel. Wants $20,000 for it. That, he estimates is the value of the nickel alone. Rodney turned out to be real interesting. Had all this stuff and a story about every bit I reckon. Knew so much about all the old movies, about who did what to whom and about parts of the country. I his spare time he and woman take off in a mobile and hit the back roads. Man what he was telling us, made me envious.
Then on to Gorham, not much of a joint, no cafes, bugger all food places, but we found one, had our 1st pizza of the trip, then up to the top of Mt Washington. Before leaving we shot his amazing tree in someone’s back yard. It’s a corker as they say.
On to Mount Washington.
This is where the strongest winds ever recorded we so recorded. Guess you’ve seen that advert. Seems like its true, and today wouldn’t have been far off I reckon. Drive 8 miles from the entrance gate all in 1st gear, then back down, guess what, in 1st gear too. That’s the rules. 4,000feet up, some guy walked it a few years ago and counted the footsteps, 16,764. It is the highest point in east USA. Home and down the road to the only meal place we haven’t frequented since we’ve been here( all 4 of ’em), we eating our pretty reasonable food. This is a real pub, proffering fine dining – seems an oxymoron. Well it was an exaggeration, but behind us we here these people talking about NZ. So naturally, we engaged them in some interesting conversation for a while.
The road is lined on both sides, almost all the way with the birches, maples, oaks, beeches all in various stages of coloration. Green, yellow, gold, red. Fantastic. There are many pull-off points and each time we stop there’s a team of photographers with all the tripods (think someone told them we were there so they are trying to make us feel envious). They shoot the dark skies, and what color can be seen in low like, then off to the next stop and out with their gear again, an so on. Unfortunately, the rain and darkness don’t make for brilliant photos. Maybe tomorrow
Got to a small place called Lincoln, stopped at a small American style sandwich bar for lunch. Hey they did expresso a rare thing around here. Got talking to a guy who . He gave us some good tips on local places to go. Tomorrow we head into Vermont. This whole area is an outdoor playground. Little skifields everywhere, 2nd hand skidoos parked on driveways for sale. These are obviously the 2nd mode of transport here. Being mountain territory, there are rivers, streams, waterfalls and ponds everywhere.heading along 112 from Lincoln, there’s these little brooks and waterfalls along the way. Stopped and went a short walk through the trees, came across thise beaver dam area. Several of them, and trees they had fallen, like the one here.
Heading off from Lincoln we are looking for the Vermont General Store, not just any store but this specific one in the town of Weston. An amazing store it turned out to be. Started in 1946 (so its older than me, but not most of you!!!). Still run by the original family.
From there we continued along 100 to Wilmington, lovely place, a few more towns to our home for2 nights, Brattleboro, get into a motel after a bit of hunting, everywhere is so busy around here, then for another excellent dinner in a downtown restaurant we happened by.
The Connecticut River runs alongside our accommodation. Morning is fine, there’s a mist floating up and down the river. Beautiful.
Head on out to see some more of the countryside and little towns. There are some real beauties. Newfane is our 1st target. Drive some wonderful back country road, beech, oak, maple, birch grow tall on both sides. The road is narrow and the trees in thier now golden colours are really magnificent.
Newfane it seems has only one colour scheme. Buildings all wooden and white with shutters all black. new religion too??Again coffee time arrives, of course no expressos anywhere in site, but churches and self storage facilities seem everywhere. There is always shops, so called cafes, etc, with the ever-present stack of plastic or cardboard cups and a battery of coffee pump things. Think I’ve had 1 coffee in a mug since hitting this advanced country. Sounds alright, I hear you say. Not really because for some reason the yanks have studiously worked to bastardise coffee too. If you want pumpkin (there it is again), OR any one of about 5 other strange flavors you are in luck. To be fair, they do usually have regular as well. Must be for the tourists, but then try to find some regular milk and the battle starts again. Even that, it seems comes multi flavoured. Must have strange cows. Anyway, I thought coffee was a flavour.
Tomorrow we head for Boston for a few nights before Cape Cod. Everywhere at the moment is Columbus Day made. All getting ready, fairs, parades etc in every little tinpot town has something going on. Hope to catch a bit in Boston.
Lousy day again, head for Boston, taking the byways in the hope of some new landscapes and a clearing sky. a front yard we pass along the way. All decorated for Halloween. This is bigger than our Xmas in terms of dress up and decorations. a traditional American barn we also passed on one of our byways.
Find a game of football going on between two uni teams in Worcester. Parked and looked through a fence, until that is we got moved along by the law. A cop came along and said where we were parked was illegal (no signs to prove it, but wasn’t going to argue)and where we were standing was not open to the public. Friggin petty,I thought, and made no real sense, but again wasn’t about to argue, so we moved along. Shame, would like to have watched for a while.pic Anne took through the fence as the cop was hurrying her up. If you look closely you will see the brass band that is almost equal to the crowd for size.
Still raining when we got to Boston. GPS takes us to a funny address about 5 miles from our hotel, but sorted that thing out too and eventually got to our new home for the next 3 nights, down the road for an Italian feed. Quite nice, but we both end up with a dose of the “you know whats”. Fun! Hoping Boston has better to offer over the next few days.
Train into city. Fantastic day, not a cloud to be seen all day. We decide to see the city by one of those hop-on, hop-off tourist things. Not bad but man they can waste some time. We queued 3 times during the day waiting. Each time we stood for 30 +minutes before the thing arrived. Such is the life of a tourist. The Bell in Hand pub, founded before NZ, 1795, reputedly Boston’s 1st pub and our venue for lunch.One of our destinations was Harvard. Great place, but today those delinquent students were holding an Oktoberfest celebration. Heaps of students in Harvard Square, unusual bands and I dare say, a little beer. Looked fun as we passed through. Day ends with another very nice little dinner and home on the train. Some scenes of Boston Some wonderful historic architecture. a bronze of a mounted George Washington silhouetted against Boston Skyline.
The very scenic Charles River late in the day;
The Boston Institute of Contemporary Art was our main target today. Very interesting, some understandable, some thought provoking, and some, just buggered if I know.
Then we walked the streets till Anne’s feet could take no more. Overcast all day, so not the best for our purposes.
few more examples of Boston architecture,1st is a street scene near the Italian quarter, probably the area with the most character, the 2nd is the John F Kennedy state building and the final is a rejuvenated industrial.
14th Oct, leave Boston, slow drive, heavy traffic but eventually we make w wee place called Cohasset. Stop for breakfast, its now 11.00 due to the traffic delays. Wonderful breakfast, so big an omelet we shared one, and still didn’t clean it up.
Back in the car and on through 2 or 3 more small places to Hyannis.
Sure you are aware of the news from this part of the world, falling share markets and oil prices, rising ebola threats and increasing possibility of US sending troops to Iraq and, or Syria.
Amidst all this:
It’s happy birthday to Paul, Carol, Andrea, Eric ( THE Red) and of course Anne. Not all on same day, but thereabouts. Remembering our experience last year in Vietnam I was a bit tentative(didn’t want any more pre-pubescent pigeons or similar daring “delicacies”). Turned out to be a lucky call, great meal, that was after walk around the waterfront, spotting a seal in the harbour momentarily and trying, but being beaten by the hotels cheap-arsed wifi, to book a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard tomorrow. Leaving Hyannis by ferry.
Will now have to get up early and get to ticket office to make sure we get on board. Martha’s Vineyard is a small iconic island about 20 miles from Hyannis sure you recognise it as one of he JFK family holiday spots. Who knows, we may even bump into him there!
On the ferry this morning to Martha’s, some of the wonderful old typical Cape Cod homes from the ferry, just before reaching the lighthouse pictured above. On arrival at Martha’s, landing at Oak Bluffs, got the car and headed on out, as they say here. We spend the day driving and bouncing around the island hotspots in a Jeep Wrangler. Edgartown, a lovely typically New England or Cape Cod village, to the Aquinnah cliffs and lighthouse, then through Chilmark to Menemsha, a fishing village for lunch of a lobster roll (one way to spoil a lobster) and a cup of lobster bisque, lovely. While sitting on the dock of the bay of course. A shot of part of the Menemsha dock of the bay.The pop of the island is about 15,000, surprisingly to me.
The most common sign around here at the moment is “closed for the season”. We learn back at our hotel, they too are closing for the season at the end of the week. We just made it. the most uncommon thing, a vineyard, not one in sight. They say there was one once, but didn’t work out, so there you are, bet you never knew that.
Then the drive back to the ferry and home. We get to the dock, a fishing boat is unloading these gigantic clam things, bit like toheroa. They have massive steel baskets of them.
Today thunderstorms predicted, no sign yet but decide to stay handy. Drive to Hyannis Port, the locale of the Kennedy compound. There are no directions or signs, but sleuthing our way we think we have it identified and photographed when along comes Jay. Jay has a couple of dogs to walk but says they can wait and instructs us to follow him. Says there’s no way we can spot the JFK house without his guidance, then leads to past a few other points of interest and finally to the Hyannis Golf Club. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go in, but Jay, who is 80, looks more like 60, tells some of his life and family history, leads us back to the start and waves good-bye. What a nice fella. erybody in this country is just so friendly. You cannot pause for a moment without a stranger coming up and asking if they can help, never with their hand out either!
We then head off to find some other places when we pass the biggest spread of pumpkins so far, & we’ve seen some biggies. Outside a Congregational Church. We stop, photograph for the record, then start talking to the women selling them. Again this leads to more than we expected, we get shown through the church, learn of its history since 1840 say hooray and continue. Turns out these pumpkins were grown by Navajo in New Mexico and brought up on a joint venture deal/profit sharing for them and the church.One of the many strange front yards we pass. No pumpkins in this, some are extremely ghoulish, weird or macabre.
A bit more wandering around including visiting a JFK museum and lunch in an interestingly weird place, made more weird when Anne notices all the staff look alike. Some sort of religious sect. Food was fine, so alls good. Then the rain starts.
The doesn’t look too bad, so we head off to the tip of the cape stopping along the way to see lighthouses etc. The 1st Nauset Beach. The present lighthouse replaced 3 earlier ones. The three indicated the location and were known as the Three Sisters. Modern technology enabled a single structure with the light code as used by all lighthouses.
Then on to Provence Town near the tip. An interesting touristy town, much like many old English fishing village. This one does have a special attribute. One that would endear itself to you, Eric N. Yep, you’d find a natural home for your oh so liberal mind. Actually come to think of it so would many more of you. More on that if you ask on our return, suffice to say, re-uniformed and regressed a half generation you would have had a field day, & could not have been!
Bunch of colourful buoys on the Province town pier. From there to a couple of beaches, and as the day grew better we got a splendid sunset near the capes tip. A beach called Race Point. A great way to end our last day here. Some interesting observations relate to some of the unusual place and street names. There was a programme on TV here last week regaling viewers with some of the places, but some street names to conjure with: Hile Pole Hill Street, Aunty Mary Road, there’s lots named after various aunties, not many uncles, wonder what that tells us. Then there’s Spankpanter Road (that ones in the town recently mentioned and could be a clue) but the one to top them all, the numero uno, the classic, the ultimate, have you guessed it? “Brians Way”. Ain’t that a beauty?
Then there’s the wonderment about what’s around the next corner when a road sign saying “Sandwich Mashpee” assails you
Anyway left he Cape Cod area and Hyanus (as Anne has been heard to pronounce it) after 4 wonderful days heading for Lititz. Don’t let your mind run those 2 into the endless variations we are sure you could come up with. The drive today has been truly spectacular. Mainly traveled byways, but even when on highways both sides of the roads have been lined with forest in all the colours of autumn, Brilliant, yellows, golds, reds, and wine not to mention green. Unfortunately, not able to stop and photograph for you.
Getting here today, stopped at Newport, RI. Sure you will recollect the importance of this place in the yachting world in 1983. Spotted the Newport Yacht Club. Walked around a little, not much of a place from what we saw. American Cup be damned, again, not a cup of latte anywhere to be found, but we did wander though an historic area near the harbour, houses all built in early 1720’s.
So we’ve ended up in this funny city, Norwalk in Connecticut, the Constitution State. The pop. of Norwalk is about 87k and by the look of the place in decline. Since we’ve been in the US they’ve been sayingthe temps have been about 20 f above normal. But that’s all changing now. This morning on the television they are predicting freezing along the shore perhaps tomorrow. We are heading inland on way to PA, and Lititz. May take a day to get there.
Indeed it will, off to a mid-point about 8.30, coffee time comes, of course cant find one for love nor money, then like something from heaven in the middle of nowhere and on the other side of the highway appears the Diner Luxe. The phot doesn’t do it justice. You ain’t seen anything like it. Fantastic retro memorabilia. And yep, great cappuccinos too. Only open 4 months. Amazing decor, excellent low cost food.
On through a number of small towns via the byways. One named Gaylordsville. After whom I wonder.
From there driving along the river and into Kent, a charming wee village, a wander around, few shots and stop for lunch, meet a guy who learns we are from NZ, his 1st words are, “I hate you”. HELL I thought, good start. The reason, we have the All Blacks. Turns out he’s Argentinian and used to play rugby. Knew Hugo Porta. His wife’s German and a photographer.
Some motorbike eh! And across the road a Stingray
From there around Dog Tail Corner Road, past Fishkill town, and the town named after an unwell pet cow, Moosic to our nights stop. The day has been an ongoing stream of the most wonderful autumn scenery this whole trip so far, nearly 3,000 miles to date driven, has been constantly through what I’d call forest. You cannot escape it. It stretches out like multi-coloured carpet to the horizon in every direction you can see, that’s when your vision is not blocked by the trees themselves. Nearly all the towns are built amongst the trees. America has no shortage of trees. Today was quite windy, and temps are dropping rapidly. As we drive the windblown golden and yellow leaves flutter around you. Beautiful. And of course Classic Vinyl Radio continues to keep me in touch with the best music in 3 generations. Periodically they play a country & western track, surely just to remind us how good rock music is. Anne by now has developed a serious case of TBR (talkback radio)withdrawal syndrome.
As planned today we’ve ended in Lititz, PA. We are staying in a building built in 1720, added to in 1760. Was originally a steel forge, now a lodge, lovely, and wolf sanctuary.
Along the way we took a diversion, after speaking to our waitress last night, to a town called Jim Thorpe.
That’s not its original name, but was changed to that when as an old mining town it was dying and Jim’s wife had his body buried there. Jim it turns out was your all American boy. A rep football and baseball player and Olympian. A real hero. Never lived there before he died, but the locals decided that his old bones might be a basis for regeneration. It was a fantastic stop. Really thank that waitress could spend several days there. Old Victorian architecture and a heap of history dating back to the early 1700’s. The diversions, as is often the case, have been one of the more exciting aspects of this trip so far.
Now we’ve left the glory of the New England fall, the intensely coloured forests and the wooded landscapes and come upon the a more agricultural area. Crops and pastures dominate. Now we see expansive Lancaster landscapes littered with massive silos, horses and buggies, men with strange beards etc.. We are in the Amish area and that of the Mennonite too. You’ll be aware of the spartan, powerless lifestyle these people live, note the tyreless tractor wheels above. Another change, we tried to find anther radio station to give Classic Vinyl a break. Well after scanning up and down the dial and finding C & W ad nauseum, about 27 such stations, then religious stations, about 12 of these, we settled on C & W, for a short while that was. The combination of twangy yaya, losing my woman, buying a new truck and my dog running away lyrics I really did worry I’d go mad. Finally a jazz station and settled.
There some interesting places around here. We stopped at Frackville for lunch. Just round the corner from where we are now is Intercourse. Not joking, just hoping! Actually, that’s real, geographically its nestled nicely between Bird in Hand (yep that’s a town name) and Bird in Bush (actually not sure that’s for real but will report later).a look at the map shows there’s a Peach Bottom down here too. Now there’s a name to let your mind run rampant on.
Today went into Lancaster to what was supposed to US’s oldest farmers market. Not really worth the effort. Then walked around photographing the architecture, mostly brick and churches. Rest of day was spent driving around Amish territory, seeing from the road the old ways they live by and trying to sneek the odd pic. Got talking to one guy who was shoveling shite from the road. Looked at my camera and asked what’s that? Someone else was working a horse team pulling a tank of cattle manure. I asked if he’d like to see the photos, he declined, asked if I could take a photo of him, bugger me, he declined again. Meanwhile Anne’s across the road taking us both. Hope she got something.
Learned the farm ran 35 cattle. How they make a living!!
Unfortunately for us, the weather has not favoured us. Resulting in one day on laundry duties and walking the historic town of Lititz in the brass monkey cold, the next day we had our wolf sanctuary tour. Very interesting, clearly very intelligent critters, more so than the dog from whence they sprang. Again poor light so photos poor, then of for another pm around the Amish territory, and a tour of one of their milking sheds, shite that’s primitive compared to ours. Lucky for them they have few cows. Then a workshop where they make the buggies we see everywhere. Specific designs for each area then into a home to meet another family to discuss family life, schooling (ave. family is 9 kids, so Hadi, Mike, Paul, you have some work to do!!), religion and work. Very interesting all round.
While driving we find the radio station made for Eric W. Yep you wouldn’t believe it, except I’m telling you, only plays Neil Diamond, 24 hours.
Then pack up and head to the capitol. Byways again lure us off the freeways and we come across Port Deposit and Havre de Grace, up the Chesapeake Bay.
The Havre de Grace lighthouse and Donny M, the last of the street carvers, carving a walking stick:
Then on to DC, drop the car, and that’s a story in itself. Wait till I do a Hertz review!
We walk about for a couple of minutes then into a pub for a cold drink, that turns into a dinner. Really good too, then onto the street to walk to our hotel. 1st stop, a bunch of 1st class buskers on a street corner could spend a hour or so watching and listening, but we have walking and night street scenes to deal with, so on and home.Look closely & you’ll see the Capitol building at end of street. A day on our feet today. Great though, getting around the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the Tom Hanks Reflecting Pool. Sure you will all remember, certainly everyone visiting this today could be overheard commenting on Forrest Gump. Calls all round from people calling “Jenny”.
American Indian Museum, the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Art and Smithsonian Air and Space, then the National Gallery all received the kudos of our visitations today. These buildings and deceptively simple structures, in general, from the exterior view. Substantial, minimalist designs, but man once you are inside there’s a whole new world. To say we were impressed would be a major understatement. The building above is a little different, more interesting, a bit Frank Gehryesque. Impressive in every sense. Scale, the range and quality of the displays, all nothing short of magnificent. Problem, one needs about a week to start to do justice to the extend of each of them, however have really enjoyed our lick and promise appearances to these. More tomorrow. An interesting side bar: think we might raved a bit about the standard of service we have found since arriving here. We could have been forgiven for believing the US was a service oriented country, that is until we hit the capital city. Washington DC removed those positive feelings big time. One could be forgiven for believing they are all suffering from the monthly syndrome associated with 50% of the population, trouble is, here it afflicts 100% of the service deliverers. Surly, short natured bastards all of em. Guess thats what you get when near everyne is a Govt employee.
It is “security city”. Everywhere you turn there’s a plethora of police and security people. This morning I noted one had fluffy family pet sort of dog on a lead and I asked how could such a critter scare the bejesus out of anyone. Turns out it was trained for sniffing out explosives, to date ain’t found any.
These included the above, the Ronald Reagan International trade building where we had coffee and saw another piece of the Berlin Wall. Then to the Natural History and American History museums and a leisurely walk home to pack in readiness for moving on to Hawaii 5-0 and our good friend Ron.
Filling the car for around $30.00 is something I didn’t want to leave behind. Guess will have to face the NZ REALITY again in due course.
Flights to Hawaii, the island, 3 of ‘em, come to an end, met by Ron, collect car and follow him for a hour up the road to his digs and ours for the next 3 days. Next morning off to a beach renown for the reliability of turtles inhabiting it. An hour and half walk, no bloody turtles. The 1st time in recorded history apparently. Seems the Scantlebury luck is afflicting the Hawaiian turtle population. We about turn and start the walk back to the car. About 2/3rds the way, Anne notices a turtle in the surf. We stop to look,
then there’s another and another etc. In all about 5 or 6 right there, a couple of metres away. A bit further along, there’s one on the beach we stop to photo.
Great weather today, one of the beaches we visit.
Next couple of days, under Ron’s expert tutelage, we see and learn a lot of this part of the island. night swimming with manta rays was real fun.
A bbq on the beach last night was a real treat. Met a group of Ron’s friends and enjoyed a lovely evening.
Geckos are everywhere, especially noticeable at night. This little fella was sitting on a leaf above me today, for a few seconds A selection of botanical macros for those of you not florally challenged. These from our visit to Hawaiian Botanical Gardens. A wonderful garden en route to Volcano Village which where we set off to this morning.
We have been hoping to see some of the volcanic activity including that which you have no doubt been reading about, the lava flows heading towards a township, crossing roads etc. All very exciting, but the weather forecast is rubbish. Not only that, for some reason thats beyond me they wont let me in to get some photos up close for you. Dah! Hopefully the forecast will be wrong. Our accomodation is a lovely cottage, surrounded by ponga ferns and pohutukawa trees at about 1,000 metres elevation. You wouldn’t believe it, just home, except we are in rainforest.
Volcano day: drive tbe Crater Rim, under cloud and mostly drizzling. Eventually come down from the top, stop at a coffee plantation, well actually drove 3 miles because again afflicted with need for a cappuccino and in this nation of coffee drinkers there are stuff all cafes. Get there to find, nup, no expresso, even though they have a cafe and shop. So on to a small beach, expresso deprived, and some more turtles and beach scenes.
Tonight we went up to the crater rim to see the volcanic glow after dark. It is a massive crater and down there somewhere there was a volcanic glow. Took some shots, got rained on and there ended our day.The scale of the caldera and volcano is quite immense.
The picture doesn’t do justice to the scale.
The people at the visitor centre ( mostly volunteers) and other places are really informative and helpful. It is all pretty impressive.
Overcast, head out to do the Chain of Craters drive to the coast. The whole way 20+miles is made up of a range of lava flows. Some of the older ones have now vegetation cover to varying degrees. We pass and stop to look at many large craters, and lava flows, weathers closing in, eventually the rain becomes persistent. At the end of the road, which has been cut off by an eruption in 83 we stop, get our sandwiches out and sit on the lava for lunch. Real ma and pa stuff. Speaking of stuff, here’s Anne stuffing a banana down my throat while sitting on a lava rock.. Must have thought I needed it. Our 1st, and hopefully, only selfie!!
Have learned that you cannot trust the tour brochures. For example the lava flowing into the sea that has been the feature of so many articles and TV docos, stopped a while ago, so did the boat trips for viewing. Looks like we’ll have rely upon Natgeo. Was hoping to do a chopper flight to see from above. The weather has knocked that on the head for now. Same goes for wildlife. A real dearth of it, yet the books show some quite unusual birds. Bit like NZ, no natural mammals or reptiles, turtles aside.
The wonderful eruptions we see photos of a really a lottery. I guess a volcanic environment is constantly changing, but for some unfathomable reason the tourist guides don’t update. Oh well!
One was to and through a lava tube, big tunnel left behind after the lava stopped flowing, and then down a million miles into and onto a crater floor. Then dinner in the Volcano Resort hotel, and to the crater rim for 1 last look at the beast. Here endeth our island of Hawaii experience. Been really interesting. Can’t thank Ron enough. Off to Waikiki for some rest and relaxation, haha, at sparrow whatnot tomorrow. From there home at end of week.
As you might have guessed a couple more matters to record.
Drove from our stay in Volcano back to the crater to try and catch the sunrise over the rim. A nice early start, and one of the better mornings we’ve experienced since being here. Didn’t last long though and nd soon reverted to damp, overcast. One of the wettest places on earth it seems, so its back to ” photos in the mist”. Then taking South Hawaii island route to get to the airport, 2.5 hours plus our stops, the weather clears and the terrain turns to lush tropical. Quite a contrast. Very enjoyable change. On the way coffee time arises, as it does, and we actually found a cappuccino. Good one too. The take-outs for the Big Island have been the starkness of the volcanic landscape (I’ve seen nothing that compares in our little country) as it contrasts with the tropical lushness, the turtles, the amount of mist encountered in the higher volcanic parts and the wonderful hospitality
Now in Waikiki. We decided to take the shuttle to our hotel. On climbing on board I was “treated” to the company of another woman. It started like one of those horror stories I have experienced on planes. You know, I just get settled near the window and the airline decides it doesn’t like me. Can never work that out cos they don’t even know me, but they allocate the isle-side seat to someone who actually needs 2 or 3 seats. Anyway, back to the shuttle and on was pushed and lifted this rather big lady. I’ll call her Cubed. Don’t know what her other name is. By my measurements she was 3x3x3. just believe me. So there I am with Cubed on my right blocking any hope of an early exit, worrying all the way in about what if the driver fails to complete a corner and we roll. She gets talking, turns out that she and her husband have been with family on another island and are coming to Waikiki to eat! Your read it right, Cubed needed more food. This they do from Seattle every 2 years except last year when they managed to fit another trip here in. Must be food shortages there. She was very nice. Her exit of the van was another story, for that you will have to ask me. Fun. But before she left Cubed told us about a must do in Waikiki. Will forever grateful -not. Its called a Hula Cake. An ice cream cake bigger than Mt Vesuvius. Its big enough to feed three she advised then showed a picture of her and Hubby knocking on off on their own. Much of the fun of travel is the people you meet.
Decided to hire another car, thought my driving days were over for this trip. Figured this is a far better deal than taking one of those orgnised tours that spend half the time in souvenir shops under the guise of some local significant industry.
The hire car took around the circumference of the island today. A quick jaunt, but now we’ve done it. Stopped in at Sunset Beach, missed Banzai, didn’t swim with the fish.
To things American, you’ll have heard their mid-term elections we done and dusted on Tuesday this week. Seems the Dems got dealt a lesson. Sam you will be pleased, even if just a little bit.
The pumpkins and Halloween have seamlessly given way to way to Xmas. Decorations and Xmas songs now surround you as you move about. A land of constant celebration.
And we give way to time, tomorrow we pack our bags for the last time.
The only NZ news reported on this side of the world has been about the trials and tribs of Phil Rudd. Sounds like it would be big news back there. From Waikiki, a night shot. Cheers, and thanks to the home team for shielding me from all matters business. Much appreciated.
To see more Photos for print, download, gifts, art taken on this journey can be seen at http://www.brianscantlebury.com/Travel/USA-lower-48, http://www.brianscantlebury.com
GOOD MORNING VIETNAM
En-route, we arrive late at night in KL went smoothly, except for an hour delay in leaving Auckland, met and taken to hotel, nice place in the shopping centre precinct of this 2.5 mil city. Would you believe, 8 separate massive shopping centres surround this hotel like a “see if you can escape with your wallet boundary” around us. Late
start next morning and into a cab to the Petronas Twin Towers. Anne recalls our experience when we called in
here on a cruise about 10 years ago.
You can’t just rock up, buy a ticket and go on up. Oh, no, they seem to
always be sold out, yet there are few people around and nothing seems to be happing, so we buy one for 2 days
out and head off on foot. Find our way to the KL Tower. As we stare at the daunting climb a man on the other
side of road calls us over offering a free ride to top. Seems legit, there’s some form uniformed guard there too.
So we jump in the slightly depilated van. Its airconned, oh the bliss. Taken to the top, the tower turns out to be just one of the attractions at the tower, there’s pony rides, an aquarium,
F1 car display and a small zoo thing that uses its stock of 2 headed turtles to sell itself. Grotesque.
We decide to jump in the van again and head down.
At the bottom we approach a cabbie, get a price to take us to Little India. Get taken around the corner to an area with Indian street stalls only to find later we were conned on the cost and the destination.
Turns out the real Little India was in the opposite direction. Later that night trying to get back to our hotel, we are quoted 20,000 ringit to be taken there, jump in and basically get taken round the corner and up the road, bingo we are there. Other trips taking 4-5 times as long have been costing 10,000 ringit. Some of these buggers see you coming.
Gotta say that these 2 experiences aside the cabbies have been brilliant.
Thursday we’ve booked Raja and his trusty old Proton to take us a 1hour ride to Port Klang so we can get a ferry to Pulau Ketam (Crab Island). Clanging along the motorway Raja going like the clappers, as we get close he says Hey Boss, just going to get some directions. Hell we think don’t tell us our new mate Raja is lost. Anyway we get there, he helps us buy the tickets for the ferry. Shortly an interesting tub that looks like a cross between a river narrow boat an extended fizz boat. Typically Asian, something of a beat up,repaired, patched up on water people mover. 45 mins later we arrive at Crab Island. What a place. Really a mudflat in the middle of the ocean that became a fishing village some 500 years ago. A real sad place in some ways. All the town’s homes, temples, public square, shops etc are on concrete platforms on piles all over the sea. At low tide the whole place is above water, the mudflat is covered with rubbish and trash of all sorts. We had lunch, steamed crabs of ourse, at a local restaurant. What a mess. Spent some time talking to owner. She was born and spent her whole life on the island. Now married has 2 kids at school there. Population living on this platform is about 6,000. Back to the pier, into the tub and back to Port Klang where our driver Raja waits. Ok Boss, into car and a million miles
an hour along the motorway ducking and diving across lanes, between cars, trucks, motorbikes etc to KL. So that’s pretty much KL for us, but before we leave , we have to return to Twin Towers for the tour we booked a couple of days ago. Didn’t mention you often have to write you age down around here.
Turns out senior citizens get discounts usually 50%.
We got that for the TTs and for a buffet lunch just to mention a couple.
Picked up the next morning by same driver we had on arrival. On way to airport got talking. This poor bugger claims he had built up a transport business, some 200 buses, trucks and taxis only to have the government confiscate the lot 6 years ago. Lost all, including family, now getting going again, driving and a couple of little enterprises on the side. A real entrepreneur.
We board for Saigon.